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Monday, October 22, 2012

Day 296: The Devil's Rock

The Devil's Rock
The Angel's Roll

I've said it before, but it is worth repeating: There just aren't that many war-based horror movies. Sure, they exist, but compared to something like “babysitter slashers”, it's not even close. When it comes to war horror, most tend to be set during World War II. While I'd like to see a horror movie take place during the American Revolution or, say, The Peloponnesian War, WWII does offer a lot more room for creativity and variety. You can have various nationalities and locations in the movie without being historically inaccurate. Of course, these movies tend to blend together, so it's important to separate them with the horror itself. Some of these WWII horror movies have had zombies, ghosts, and for today's review, a shape-shifting demon.

The Devil's Rock is a 2011 supernatural horror movie from New Zealand. The movie stars Craig Hall (30 Days Of Night, The Water Horse) as Captain Ben Grogan, a New Zealand soldier on a sabotage mission one day before the Allied invasion of Normandy. Joined by Sergeant Joe Tane (Karlos Drinkwater), the two soldiers land on Forau Island to destroy a bunker and distract Nazi forces while the invasion begins. They hear a woman screaming inside the bunker and are surprised to see a Nazi soldier coming towards them, asking for help. Ben stabs him in the back and makes his way into the bunker. They are surprised to find the bunker empty except for the mutilated corpses of German soldiers. Joe discovers book of black magic and while he is distracted, is shot. Ben hears the gunfire and when he reaches Joe, he is knocked out. He awakens to discover that he has been bound by Colonel Meyer (Matthew Sunderland, Out Of The Blue, Stringer), who begins torturing him for information. Eventually, Ben escapes and chases Meyer through a series of tunnels and shoots him. He discovers a room covered in occult symbols and finds the source of the screams. He is shocked to discover that the woman screaming is his dead wife, Helena (Gina Varela, The Market, Xena: Warrior Princess). An injured Meyer shoots Ben in the leg and then shoots Helena in the head. He explains that she is really a shape-shifting demon, conjured up by the Nazis to use as a weapon. As proof, Meyer offers a still-alive Helena the leg of a dead German soldier. As she begins feasting, she reverts to her true demonic form. Can Ben trust Meyer in order to rid the world of this demon, before she manages to free herself?

"Do I have something in my nose?"

Zzzzzzzzzz. Oh, I'm sorry. I could barely keep my eyes open typing out that plot. If you couldn't tell, I found The Devil's Rock to be very boring. If I wanted to be lazy, I could have easily written just 3 sentences for the entire story and it would have essentially been just as good as the previous paragraph. There isn't much to the story beyond soldier finds demon who looks like his wife and can he trust this Nazi. The movie lacks any suspense, making the hour and a half feel like a marathon to watch. Without the suspense, what's the point of watching? Having a small cast doesn't help either. We know neither Ben nor Meyer can die too early, otherwise where is the conflict or the character foil? I never completely buy the demon's ability to persuade Ben other than just looking like his wife. Speaking of looks, when the demon's true form is revealed, I almost laughed out loud. Quick, think of what a cartoon devil looks like. That's how the demon in The Devil's Rock looked like. Of course, she was naked, but still, a cliché down to the rubber horns and bright red skin.

Seriously, where's your plastic pitchfork?

There is some action in the movie, but not as much as you'd expect from a movie set the day before D-Day. Most of the movie is filled with talking which was often too quite for me to fully hear, despite cranking up the volume. I was rewarded for my efforts to hear by having my eardrums blasted with insanely loud screams intermittently placed throughout the movie. I will say that the movie did put more effort into being historically accurate than most war-based horror movies. There is quite a lot of gore and blood, though we only see the aftermath of violence. Why not show us the goods? I mean, the makeup and prosthetics look great, but it would have made the movie far more entertaining to see the demon inflict violence on the Nazis. Everyone can enjoy that. There are references to actual events during the war and the movie is sure to include facts of New Zealanders fighting in the war. I can't say that I've ever seen a movie from New Zealand (Lord Of The Rings doesn't count) so it was neat to see a horror movie from a different perspective. Unfortunately, this movie is neither scary nor entertaining. 

No thanks. I already ate.

The Devil's Rock is a mediocre story that lacks that suspense to make it a good watch. There is not much in the way of character development or story progression. It lacks the proper amount of violence, especially considering the amount of gore we see. Seeing the violence would have made the movie more entertaining and would have created more suspense. Instead, we get a lot of dialogue, some of which is inaudible, and some screaming. The demon's true form looks ridiculous and would have been far more effective if they only hinted at what it looked like. It's nice that they made the effort to be historically accurate and to mention the efforts of New Zealanders during the war. Beyond being a horror film from New Zealand, The Devil's Rock has nothing else going for it.


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